As we wrap up the month of April, nationally recognized as the official month of sexual assault awareness, let’s draw our attention to arguably one of the most exciting and tiring nights of my year: the night of the Take Back the Night rally and march in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is the night that the members of Michigan Takes Back the Night spend the entire year planning, obsessing over, and worrying about and which eventually culminates into one incredible, explosive night of poignant empowerment.
During this night we hold a rally on the University of Michigan’s campus to bring the students and the community together in a fight against sexual assault. We spend the evening with music, dancers, slam poets, inspiring speakers, and fellow activists as we break the silence and stigma shrouding sexual assault and its survivors. We speak out against sexual violence and the excuses society gives the perpetrators of such crimes, we recognize victims, and we celebrate survivors together. All this kicks off the second portion of the evening: the march throughout the nighttime streets. We grab our signs and storm the streets, united by chants that herald our message and our common belief that these streets, like all streets, should be safe streets. The evening is rounded out by a candlelight vigil to commemorate those whose lives have been taken by sexual crimes and to acknowledge our strength as a community and our continued fight. This night is not without its tears nor is it without laughs and cries of excitement. There’s the electric buzz of adrenaline and empowerment running in rapid currents through our blood and in the air.
All this in just one evening, from one city, and one event; however there’s no need to worry if you’re not in Michigan. There are Take Back the Night organizations and events all over the United States working hard to continuously raise awareness of sexual assault and violence. Each chapter’s version of Take Back the Night is unique and reflects the vision of their volunteers and the values of their community, but one thing stays consistent: Take Back the Night is always about working together to combat sexual assault and domestic violence, being educated on these matters, and understanding the importance of our role in raising awareness. The silence surrounding sexual assault is strong, but our voices combined are stronger.
The Take Back the Night events around the country provide us with that opportunity to unite. Regardless of whether you’re a survivor, a supporter of a survivor, or a community member, these events bring us together to raise awareness regarding rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other sexual crimes; they bring us one step closer to safe streets and safe nights.
So if you’re interested in participating in a Take Back the Night event, check out the official website where you can find the dates and locations of upcoming events and other information about the national organization so that you can raise your voice and raise awareness.